Giving Back

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Giving back to the planet

While charitable donations and volunteering are the first things many people think of with regard to giving back to their communities, there are additional ways that conscientious men and women can give back if they don't have the time or money to donate.

One such way is to protect the planet. Everyone benefits from a healthy planet, and adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle is a great way to give back to your community and benefit the people who live there now and those who will live there in the generations to come.

• Recycle glass. Many people already recycle plastic, but recycling glass, whether it's a bottles, jar or other glass item and material, helps to dramatically reduce both air and water pollution. Many communities now mandate that men and women recycle their glass waste, but men and women who live in communities with no such regulations can still recycle their glass by taking it to the community recycling facility. Go the extra mile and encourage your neighbors to recycle their glass as well, even offering to take their recycled items to the recycling center to further motivate them to recycle.

• Buy local. Buying local is another way for men and women to give back to the planet. Locally produced items don't have to be transported across the globe, drastically reducing the fuel needed to get those items into your house. In addition, because they don't have to be transported long distances, many locally produced items are not as heavily packaged, cutting back on the use of potentially harmful or wasteful plastics.

• Use a clothesline. Using a clothesline instead of a clothes dryer to dry your clothes can dramatically reduce your energy consumption. Also, clothes that hang dry won't be subject to the same amount of wear and tear as those dried in a dryer, meaning they will last longer, saving you money and cutting down on the demand for new clothes that must be produced and transported, oftentimes from overseas, at a heavy cost to the planet.

• Do less laundry. It's not just how you dry your clothes that affects the environment, but also how frequently you wash those clothes can influence the size of your carbon footprint. Washing machines need a substantial amount of water and energy to operate effectively, and using them to wash anything less than a full load is wasting both water and energy, not to mention raising your utility bills. Only launder clothes when you have a full load.

• Stick to showers. Much like there are ways to save water when washing your clothes, there also are ways to save water when washing yourself. Forgo baths for showers, which consume roughly 50 percent less water than baths. When showering, keep it quick, as each minute you're in the shower, you are using as much as five gallons of water.

• Opt out of paper statements. Paper statements, whether it's your monthly bank statements or utility bills, can increase your risk of identity theft, especially if you live an apartment complex where mail is not delivered directly to your door. But opting for e-statements not only makes you less susceptible to identity theft, it also drastically cuts back on paper consumption, saving trees and improving air quality along the way.